About skittel

I am the primary blogger for The Observant Customer with over 25 years of experience in providing, managing and training retail customer service.

A Nice Touch – Williams-Sonoma

While purchasing a new piece  of cookware at William-Sonoma, I was invited to join their rewards program, The Key.  The cashier turned to another employee and asked how to  enroll the person on the register so that the customer does not have to go through the hassle of using the small and glitchy keypad.  ANTImage result for williams sonoma

The Greeting Part 3: Just doing what I am told?

Walking through the mall today, I stopped into a store.  Not that I was looking for anything in particular, it was just that I had not visited this store recently.  As I crossed the threshold, I was spotted by the friendly and vigilant salesperson who quickly shouted out a “Welcome in” greeting.  Not in the mood to talk with any clerks, I boded and smiled then turned in the other direction trying to signal that I appreciated the greeting but I wanted to be left alone.

Much to my surprise, the salesperson had hustled around to get in front of me and once again extend their greeting. The conversation went something like this.

“Welcome in”

“Thanks, I heard you the first time.”

“Can I help you find anything today?”

“No, I just came in to kick around.” I hoped that would signal to leave me be. At this point I was getting a bit annoyed. He was friendly and attentive which I could appreciate but he was attentive to a fault.

“That’s fantastic.  Feel free to look around.”

“Thanks, I will.”  Great, I thought I would finally be able to wander in peace.

“Just so you know, almost everything in the store is on sale.”  (I had gathered that by all the signs, toppers and the easel at the entry way providing me with that same information.)

“Thanks, I will just want to look around.”

“That’s fine…Actually all of our winter wear is up to 60% off.”

I did not respond and just continued walking away.

“Okay then,” he responded, “I will just let you look around.”

Ah, the magic words.  All I came in for was to walk around and check things out AND finally, it appeared I would be allowed to wander in peace.  But NO.

“I will check back with you.” After which I shot him a glare that I hoped would tell him that I would prefer to be left alone. Not able to leave well enough alone, he added, “My name is _______ if you need anything you can track me down.”

Now I understand that they were just trying to make me feel welcome and more than likely they were possibly trained or coached to be persistent in offering service.  But clearly this salesperson did not recognize that I needed and wanted to be left alone.  It appears that they felt obligated to say all the things as if getting through a script will aid in sales.

Annoying customers will never aid in conversion and increasing transaction size.

Having spoiled the mode for my visit, I made a shortened loop of the store and headed out the door.  Amazingly, I was not offered a farewell.

Oh, so shoppable!

 

The Greeting Part 2

I think that it is sometimes assumed that when new employees join our stores that they know how to properly greet our customers.  After all, they did greet us during the interview.  Unfortunately it has been my experience that many store employees do not know how to properly greet a customer. It seems in most retailers today, if an employee makes any effort to greet a customer the management is satisfied.  (As for those employees that are simply not inclined to greet customers, that is another issue all together.)

So what does a great customer greeting look like.  Here I will break it down.

Pre-Greeting  It is important that employees maintain their sight-lines so they can check for customers. If engaged in tasks, an employee should look up regularly from their work.

Acknowledge  If an employee spots a customers they should acknowledge them with eye contact and a smile.  A nod helps a customer know that they have been spotted.  If the customer maintains eye contact you know they need help and you should move to the next phase. If the customer nods and smiles in return but then looks away and  continues their wandering, you can assume that they do not need any immediate help.

Approach  If the customer maintains eye contact, you should approach them immediately. Walk towards them with a certain sense of urgency to show that you feel they are important.Step up to them and stop an arm’s length away from them.  The is the generally acceptable distance to maintain when talking with a customer.

If the customer backs off, do not move towards them.  The want more space.  If the customer moves toward you, hold your ground, they are likely a “close talker.” If a customer makes you uncomfortable being so close, simple pick up some product and hold it in front of you as if you needed to pick up that item as part of your work.

Engage  Now engage the customer.  First as a human being, not as a walking wallet.  Extend a friendly greeting to develop rapport than pivot to helping them with any immediate needs such as way-finding or a simple question.  Finally, you will be in position to move onto helping fulfill their needs.

Simple, effective, professional.

The Greeting Part 1: That one didn’t count!

The non-greeting

I was out doing some shopping the other day and went to our local outlet mall looking for a pair of athletic pants.  They are nothing more than fancy, dressy sweat pants but they are comfortable and as a matter of fact I was wearing a pair when I went into their makers store.

Image result for nike swoosh

I was greeted warmly by the greeter/security at the front of the store as I continued into the store looking for the pants.  There was an employee wandering in my general direction.  As he passed, without making eye contact or slowing down, he asked if I was doing okay. Without hearing my response, he continued on his way.

All I wanted to know was if they had the pants I was wearing in stock and where they might be located.  A transactional customer that was looking to make a quick purchase. Easy money.  But this employee did not have the inclination to greet me in a proper fashion.  In fact, I bet that if you had asked him, he would have said that he had properly greeted me and that I did not need any help.  I would like to think that he had been trained to greet customers as part of his on-boarding.  But his greeting did not count.  Other than giving him the peace of mind that he had greeted me, it was completely ineffective.

( I soon found what I was looking for and quickly made my purchase.)

Shopko Bankruptcy

Update: An additional 139 stores was added to the closure list on February 9th.

Shopko announced today that they had filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection.  This was not a huge surprise as the company has been struggling for years.  The company announced the closure of 105 stores.  As is often the case with these announcements, there is a rush to see if “your Shopko (or Sears, Kmart, etc.) is closing.”

On a recent road trip in eastern Oregon and Washington, I traveled through Walla Walla, WA. and visited a Shopko store.  The store is located in the Wall Walla Town Center, a recently redeveloped mall.  Prior to redevelopment it was the Blue Mountain Mall that had opened in1989, was considered a “dead mall” in the 2000s and went bankrupt in 2012. While the Walla Walla store that I visited will remain open, the store itself has the feeling one gets as of late in a Sears or Kmart.

It did not help that it was located next to this Gottschalks store.

Gottschalks went bankrupt themselves in July of 2009.  This store has been vacant for nearly 10 years adjacent to the Shopko.

Location, location, location.